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5th September 2022

Kurki

Context

A farmer committed suicide in Punjab while sitting on a dharna outside the administrative complex against kurki orders for his land.

About

About kurki:

  • Kurki means attachment of a farmer’s land, already pledged to the money lending institution or individual, in case of a loan default.
  • Apart from banks, private moneylenders, commission agents also get these decrees against farmers from time to time.
  • Execution of Kurki:
  • Kurki orders are executed under Section 60 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908.
  • The land which is pledged by the farmer to the bank or money lender gets registered in their name.
  • In some cases, the land is auctioned as well.
  • The process begins after the money lender moves court to get kurki orders in case the farmer is unable to pay back his loan.
  • In kurki, attachment of farmer’s land as well as his tractor can be done as per the Section 60.
  • In 2017, the then Amarinder Singh government abolished Section 67-A of Punjab Cooperative Societies Act that enabled cooperatives to recover unpaid loans through auctioning of land mortgaged by farmers.
  • However, Section 63-B, 63-C of the Act were not dropped to prevent attachment of land.

Why has a total ban on the century-old kurki law not been achieved?

  • A plea filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2018 sought complete ban on kurki.
  • However, the Punjab government in its affidavit stated that there was no need to ban kurki as relief was being given to farmers in terms of loan waiver, compensation etc.
  • Moreover, it stated that Section 60 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 – under which kurki takes place — was over 110 years old and needed complete revision.

Indian scientist wins award for fortifying millet

Context

Telangana-based agriculture scientist Mahalingam Govindaraj has won the coveted 2022 Norman E. Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application.

About

Norman Borlaug Field Award:

  • The Norman E. Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation, is presented every October in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, by the World Food Prize Foundation.
  • This $10,000 award recognizes exceptional, science-based achievement in international agriculture and food production by an individual under the age of 40.
  • Awardees emulate the same intellectual courage, stamina and determination in the fight to eliminate global hunger and poverty demonstrated by Dr. Norman Borlaug as a young scientist working in Mexico in the 1940s and '50s.

2022 Recipient

  • Mahalingam Govindaraj, Senior Scientist for Crop Development at HarvestPlus and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, has been named the 2022 recipient of the Norman E. Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, Endowed by The Rockefeller Foundation.
  • He is recognized for his outstanding leadership in mainstreaming biofortified crops, particularly pearl millet, in India and Africa.
  • For more than a decade, he has directed the development and dissemination of high-yielding, high-iron and high-zinc pearl millet varieties which have contributed to better nutrition for thousands of farmers and their communities.
  • As a scientist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) starting in 2011, Govindaraj defined a strategy for biofortification of pearl millet with high iron and zinc content and dissemination of these high-yielding, drought-tolerant varieties to farmers.
  • Biofortification is the process of increasing the micronutrient content of a crop through selective breeding, and has become a keystone strategy for reducing vitamin and mineral deficiencies in low- and middle-income countries.
  • In 2014, Govindaraj released Dhanashakti, the world’s first biofortified pearl millet.
  • Independent clinical studies showed that 200 grams of Dhanashakti provided women with more than 80 percent of their recommended daily allowance of iron, compared to only 20 percent in regular pearl millet varieties.
  • Govindaraj’s active collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research led to India becoming the first country in the world to commit to iron and zinc standards as core traits in their national cultivar release policy.
  • Pearl millet became the first crop in which minimum levels of these essential micronutrients were mandated in 2018.

Nano urea

Context

Nano-urea, a product developed by the Indian Farmers and Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) and heavily advertised by government as panacea to reduce farmer dependence on packaged urea is yet to be fully tested despite having been fast tracked for commercial application.

  • Normally, three seasons of independent assessment by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is required for approving a new fertiliser, but in the case of nano urea this was reduced to two.
  • Moreover scientists are still unclear if the product can on its own cut farmers’ dependence on urea.

Nano Urea:

  • Nano Urea is a nanotechnology based revolutionary Agri-input which provides nitrogen to plants.
  • Nano Urea is a sustainable option for farmers towards smart agriculture and combat climate change. 
  • Nano urea is a patented and indigenously made liquid that contains nanoparticles of urea, the most crucial chemical fertiliser for farmers in India.
  • A single half-litre bottle of the liquid can compensate for a 45kg sack of urea that farmers traditionally rely on, it is claimed.
  • Nano urea (Liquid) contains 4 % nanoscale nitrogen particles. Nanoscale nitrogen particles have a small size (20-50 nm); more surface area and number of particles per unit area than conventional urea.

Benefits of Nano urea:

  • IFFCO claims that nano urea is a sustainable solution for nutrition of crops.
  • It will encourage balanced soil nutrition by cutting off the excessive use of traditional urea and making plants healthier, stronger, and safeguarding them from the effect of lodging.
  • Nano urea is a great alternative to traditional urea.
  • It can cut down urea requirement by a whopping 50%.
  • A 500 ml bottle of nano urea features 40,000 ppm (parts per million) of Nitrogen.
  • This is equivalent to the nitrogen provided by one whole bag of traditional urea.
  • This new urea comes packed in bottle.
  • This will cut down logistics and warehousing cost
  • Nano urea promises to decrease pollution of soil, water, and air, at the same time, address the issue of global warming.
  • The efficacy test conducted by IFFCO revealed an average 8% increase in yield of crops.


World’s first Nano Urea (Liquid) Plant:

  • The Nano Urea (Liquid) Plant has been built at the cost of around 175 crore rupees.
  • It will further provide farmers the means to boost productivity and help increase their income.
  • The ultramodern Nano Fertilizer Plant has been established keeping in mind the increase in crop yield through the use of Nano Urea.
  • The Plant will produce about 1.5 lakh bottles of 500 ml per day.

Borra caves in Andhra Pradesh

About

About Borra Caves:

  • Borra Cave is located near the Ananthagiri hills of the Eastern Ghats range in Alluri Sitharaman Raju district, in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Borra Caves are ranked amongst the deepest as well as the largest caves in India that were formed millions of years ago.
  • These caves are considered to be among a rare geological formation and these were formed by the water activity by the Gosthani River.
  • Borra caves go as deep as 80 meters in depth and are karstic limestone structures.
  • These caves were discovered by William King George of the Geological Survey of India.
  • There is a naturally formed Shivling inside the caves, which is worshipped by the tribals who live in the nearby forests 
  • The stalactites and stalagmites in the caves have various interesting shapes.
  • There are formations resembling Shiva-Parvati, Mother and Child, the beard of a saint, a crocodile and even a stalagmite in the shape of a human brain.
  • This structure is considered as an important discovery for anthropological research because excavations that were carried out unearthed some tools made of stone from tracing back to the Paleolithic age, some 30,000-50,000 years ago. 

       

Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (IAD)

Context

ISRO has recently demonstrated a new technology with Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (IAD) that is said to be a game-changer with multiple applications for future missions including to Mars and Venus.

About

About Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (IAD):

  • IAD is designed and developed by ISRO's Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).
  • It was successfully test flown in a 'Rohini' sounding rocket from Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS).
  • Initially, it was folded and kept inside the payload bay of the rocket.
  • It was later inflated at around 84 km altitude and descended through the atmosphere with the payload part of the sounding rocket.
  • The pneumatic system for inflation was developed by ISRO's Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC).
  • Systematically, the IAD has reduced the velocity of the payload through aerodynamic drag and followed the predicted trajectory.
  • IAD is made from Kevlar fabric, coated with Polychloroprene.
  • Since it is made of fabric, IAD can be packed into a small volume of 15 litres, available in the nosecone of the RH300.
  • When inflated, IAD takes the shape of three concentric toroids with an overall diameter of 1.3m that generates high aerodynamic drag and stability.

Applications of New Technology

  • According to ISRO, the IAD has huge potential in a variety of space applications including the recovery of spent stages of rockets, landing payloads on Mars or Venus and making space habitats for human space flight missions.
  • This demonstration opens a gateway for cost-effective spent stage recovery using the Inflatable Aerodynamics Decelerator technology and this IAD technology can also be used in ISRO’s future missions to Venus and Mars.

New elements being tested in the mission:

Apart from testing IAD, new elements and a host of new methodologies were flight tested successfully, including:

  • Micro Video Imaging System
  • Software Defined Radio Telemetry-Dual Transmitter (SDRT-DTx)
  • Acoustics Processing Unit with mini-IMAS (Indigenous MEMS Acoustic Sensors)
  • New software for wind compensation for TERLS
  • Modified nosecone separation system
  • Modified FLSC separation system for RH300
  • Improved 1s delay detonator for spin rocket separation
  • Thermally conducting and electrically insulating potting compound ATCAP-75-7030

Dark sky reserve’ in Ladakh

Context

A part of Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary at Hanle, Ladakh is all set to become India’s first Dark Sky Reserve.

About
  • A tripartite MoU has been signed between the Ladakh administration, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) and Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) to establish a first-of-its-kind in India ‘Dark Sky Reserve’ in Hanle, Ladakh.
  • A Dark Sky Reserve is a designation given to a place that has policies in place to ensure that a tract of land or region has minimal artificial light interference.
  • Several such reserves exist around the world but none so far in India.
  • The site will host activities to promote astronomy-tourism, giving a boost to local tourism and economy through science.
  • The Hanle Dark Sky Reserve (HDSR) will be an area spanning 22 km in radius centred on the Hanle observatory.

Why Hanle, Ladakh?

  • Being a cold desert region, Ladakh holds great potential for undertaking uninterrupted astronomical observations.
  • Dry weather and clear sky conditions prevail during most months of the year, making Hanle a naturally perfect setup for sky gazing and setting up astronomical observatories.
  • At a height of 4,500 metres, Hanle is already home to an optical, a gamma ray and an infrared telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory complex operated by the IIA.
  • These telescopes have been used to study stars, galaxies, exoplanets and the evolution of our Universe.

Editorial

India and Australia, from divergence to convergence

Context:

    • Soon the fifth round of the bilateral Track 1.5 dialogue will set the pace for Canberra’s deepening relationship with New Delhi. It offers an opportunity to take concrete steps to foster mutual nships.

A gradual change

  • Factors like, the long shadow of the Cold War, India’s economic policies, the White Australia policy, and Canberra’s decision not to transfer uranium to India had kept the two countries apart for several decades. But that era is truly over now. Indians are today the largest source of skilled migrants in Australia and the economic relationship, already robust, could potentially be transformed if the promise of the new Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) is realized.

Setting markers for ties

  • A dialogue is a conversation between equals who have agreed to work as partners. No one just preaches, no one just listens. We are here to provide markers for the future of the relationship between our two great countries. Stable, strong, and sustainable relationships are built not just on the possibility of immediate gains, but on the promise of the future.
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 5th September 2022

Mains Question:

Q1. “Biofortification is a rapidly emerging strategy to address micronutrient malnutrition, but as an agricultural strategy with health objectives, it faces unique challenges.” Discuss. (150 words)

Approach

  • Introduction- Brief about biofortification and increasing need (malnutrition)
  • Evolving technologies
  • Discuss current challenges
  • Required measures
  • Conclude accordingly 
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